The Rich Visual Feast, Part 2

As stated in a post published in 2017, an artist should always strive to create “The Rich, Visual Feast” according to my printmaking professor, Lynwood Kreneck. I want to revisit this idea.

Over the holidays I saw two of the most visually compelling movies I’ve seen in a long time: Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse and The Favourite. Both were complex stories, but in all honesty I would almost like to see them both again but without the sound, just soak up the movies purely with my eyes.

Of the two, I prefer Spiderman for a few reasons. Visually, it is hands down one of the finest pieces of animation I’ve ever seen. The characters had such life and volume, yet were still had that cartoony look. Almost hyper-real, like Speed Racer from a few years ago. What really got me was the dot patterns — the moire patterns — you seen in old comic books due to the poor printing quality. Those dots were overlaid on most of the movie, although they would become more pronounced at times when the light hit them the right way. In all, the effect added so much more to the overall picture. It was breath-taking.

I am not really into period pieces, but agreed to see The Favourite because my wife loves these movies. Much to its credit, it was beautiful to watch. It is one of those movies that had me feeling uncomfortable the whole time, but afterwards we have yet to quit talking about it. These sumptuous, opulent costumed people in this ornate castle not being satisfied living out these extraordinary lives, despite the reality that there was a war with France going on, and the rest of England was suffering terribly. The story was filled with this kind of duality that you only come realize upon reflection afterwards.

That is ultimately the difference between the two movies. One was an instant hit of pure visual pleasure while the other presented itself in such a way that it compelled me to not only sit through it, but I still cannot quit thinking about it. There is an interesting lesson here about how to use visuals to tell stories and how powerful visuals can be.

Now, which one is my favourite?


You Know You’re a Designer When…

In March, I went for an eye exam and after confirming that my vision was in fact getting worse, and went to select a frame to hold the new prescription. I’d been wearing these modern Oakley frames and wanted to go for a different look. Something more bookish is what I had in mind.

As I went with the optometrist’s assistant to choose some frames, I was instantly drawn to a pair (blindly of course because I did not have my glasses on), put them on and loved them.

Easy, but one problem.

Out of the hundreds of frames to choose from, I had selected what had to be the most expensive frames in the store – a frame by Prada that cost well over $700, and that is before I put prescription lenses in them. I put the Prada frames back and selected another pair that I could afford.

This ability to pick out the very best of the very best is something I am quite good at, only I wish I had the finances to support these choices. I have been known to walk into a store, find a sport coat I love, look at the price tag and see that it is a couple thousand dollars.  “Champagne tastes on a beer budget”, unfortunately for me.

So what does any of this have to do with knowing when you’re a designer? Everything.

It’s more than simply having good taste. You will know you’re a Designer when you can innately spot the best of the best, whether it is design excellence, spotting inherent talent in someone or seeing a problem along with the solution to solve it. You’re a Designer when you don’t have to even think about these things because you are in tune with the world enough that you can make sound choices. Often times these choices will lead to creating a positive impact on the world.

Some people can do this quickly, like while they are still in school or shortly thereafter, while others have to grow into it. Neither is right nor wrong, or better or worse, it is just the way people are. The key is this: That you develop the ability. Being able to discern the truly excellent from the good is a key element to helping give you a unique voice as a Designer.

In the end, I ditched the frames I bought in March for a pair of Ray Ban’s (pictured above) in early December. Very simple, lightweight and comfortable – all excellent qualities. Just wish I hadn’t been blinded by the Prada’s in the first place.


The Final “Noted” of the Year

Last year at this time, I was at my in-laws with little to do so I read like a madman, posting all my favorites. It was a lengthy list. This year, not so much – just a few things that came across my feed over the past week, some of which were originally published earlier in the year:

Never heard of Fold before, but To Be An Underdog, Interview with Dave Trott will bring me back to their site again for further investigation.

Late in the Fall, Ideo broke its silence on design thinking’s critics. It’s still bullshit.

In the spirit of the holidays, read Nakatomi Space, about the building where my favorite Christmas movie, Die Hard, took place. I referred to Die Hard as my favorite Christmas movie long before it was the popular thing to do.

Design Observer’s Chain Letters series is fantastic, especially this posting late in the year with Celene Aubry of the Hatch Print Show.

2018 was not a banner year of rebranding, and 5 Brand Logo Redesigns That Pissed People Off proves it.


Writing is design.

The quote above is from Ms Chappell Ellison on her recent interview with Jarrett Fuller on the podcast Scratching the Surface. A fair amount of navel gazing in this episode, but there are some good nuggets of wisdom worth uncovering and definitely worth a listen.

Strangely enough, I’ve grown to think of writing as a design problem, only the difference being  that rather than using visuals, the carefully crafted words are used to create images in the readers’ minds. Isn’t that what all writers do? As noted before, I used a similar line of thinking to get me through college algebra.

The parallels are interesting. Drafts are like sketches. Rewrites become the design process. Both design and writing are all about conveying ideas, only attacking the problem with words alone is often the best choice to communicate abstract ideas not easily represented by images. Whatever works best.

To me, at least, this is design thinking.


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